Master List – Editing Tips

A growing list of resources on how to revise and edit your own work:

How to Spot (and Stop) Episodic Writing

In an excellent post about Episodic Writing, Alayne Kay Christian sums up some of the key aspects that comprise episodic writing and how to avoid it.

But first, what is episodic writing?

Episodic writing is when a story is comprised of seemingly unrelated events whose purpose is to escalate conflict for the reader’s entertainment.

There is no primary goal for the MC or plan for how the MC will get there.

The character is reactive, and there is no change or growth.

The story lacks a clear path that takes readers from A –> B in a linked sequence of events.

Now, why does this matter? As Alayne says:

[In episodic writing] The scenes feel erratic, and even though the scene itself might have some tension, it doesn’t add tension to the story as a whole. The story might be moving forward, but the reader has a sense that she is not getting anywhere.

As a writer, you are asking your readers to invest their time and emotional energy in your story. In exchange, you promise to take them somewhere meaningful.

The key is meaningful.

One does not find meaning in random acts of conflict or high-speed car chases. And one can only be entertained by chaos for so long. At some point, readers (rightfully) demand a nugget of wisdom or at the very least a drop of soul.

So, how do you avoid writing episodic stories?

Alayne has a few great questions in her post:

  • does it matter where each scene appears in the story?
  • are scene goals related to the story goal/larger plotline?
  • is the rising action simply rising chaos?
  • do the MC’s challenges have significance for the bigger story?
  • is there a meaningful goal driving this scene?
  • do the scenes inform the reader?

Do yourself a favor and check out the whole article. There’s a lot of writerly goodness in there!

Write a Story Readers Can’t Put Down

KM Weiland has a fantastic post on How to Plot a Book: Start with the Antagonist. I urge you to read it. It will set off all sorts of light bulbs in your creative mind.

The gist of her post is simple (although don’t be fooled by its simplicity):

We think of the protagonist as being the point of the story. But he’s actually not. The antagonist is the point.

That’s right. Your story is not about your hero, it’s about your villain.

Why? Without conflict there is no story.

So really, if you want to write a story that readers cannot put down, you need to infuse it with conflict. And to do that, you need a really good Antagonist.

KM Weiland has five great questions you should ask yourself (and you should read what she has to say about these question) because this post is chock-full of insights):

  1. Who is your Antagonist?
  2. What does your Antagonist want?
  3. Why does your Antagonist want what he wants?
  4. What is your Antagonist’s plan for getting what he wants?
  5. What is the Thematic Significance of your Antagonist’s goal?

Do not underestimate the power of these questions or how your story will be shaped by the answers. Keep in mind that an Antagonist is not always a bad guy nor is it always a person.

An Antagonist is a force that drives conflict.

And depending on the nature of your story, you may have up to five different types of Antagonist forces.

How do you choose the right one?

Head on over to Helping Writers Become Authors for details and more insights.